This reading by Italo Calvino was hard to follow but there were many points that I found important about the idea of imagination and imagery. Calvino starts his excerpt by talking about Dante’s Inferno and the images and ideas that Dante has. While going through many circles of Purgatory Dante sees images of different landscapes, scenes from heaven, people, and supernatural beings. Dante believes that there are two types of imagination the “high fantasy” and the corporeal imagination. Calvino continues with this idea and elaborates on this idea with his idea that there are two types of imagination, the first one being that imagination starts with the word and ends with a visual image. The second time is that imagination starts with a visual image and ends with a verbal expression.
Calvino believes that the first type of imagination is the one that usually occurs when we read. He goes on to describe how movies and television shows are just products of this, they are the visualizations of a story or book that someone had written down. The director and the writers “visualize” what they think the book or story is and make it happen physically. This type of imagination is always at work even when we don’t think about it. Visuals and images are in everything even if they are not meant to be. Even reading a scientific article or a set of data can force the imagination to picture what they are talking about visually. The second type of imagination, that imagination starts with a visual image and ends with a verbal expression, seems to be the more complicated of the two. Calvino argues this point by saying that when he first starts writing he usually has a visual image in his mind that is the source of his fantasy stories. This can be seen throughout a lot of art because the visual of the painting can often cause someone to have a verbal expression, they did not create the painting but they had a verbal reaction to it. So maybe the two types are just a circle of imagination, visuals starting from words and words starting from images.
Calvino believes that imagination is the basis for everything, art, science, writing, even math. People think in terms of images and it is a very important part of our lives that we don’t think about very often. Calvino ends his excerpt with the question of is there anything left for people today to create brand new ideas and stories? He believes that people are either going to have to recycle old images and ideas and create a new context for them to be in, or that we will have to start from scratch. This reading was very interesting and thought provoking, I had never thought about where imagination and ideas are derived from. Image is a powerful tool that we use to communicate and survive. Calvino makes a lot of good points about the significance of imagination and makes me wonder if there is any true, original imaginations left or are all images and ideas based off other images and ideas?